The final speech by speaker Lockwood Smith looking back on the 49th parliament, is worth listening to.
It includes some statistics, the most impressive of which came during his tribute to his staff. Dr Smith gave credit to his senior private secretary who managed to run the Speaker’s office on less than 50% of the cost of the previous term.
- The house sat for 1650 hours, 150 more than the previous parliament.
- A quarter of those were in urgency and Dr Smith said he hopes proposals for changes to Standing Orders adopted by the House will facilitate less reliance on urgency in future.
- Only two Members Bills received royal assent. That was only one fewer than in the 48th parliament and he hopes that proposed changes will enable more of those Bills to be considered next term.
- The Finance and expenditure select committee was the busiest, in terms of reports presented to the House, the Commerce select Committee was a close second.
- There was a 40% increase in the number of written questions asked of Ministers.
- In spite of 17 fewer sitting days more oral questions were asked and Dr Smith put that down to Question Time continuing even when the House was in urgency.
Dr Smith turned from statistics to reflections on some of the memorable moments of the term.
Among these was a speech by Tau Henare who interjected with a mention of Linda Lovelace about which Dr Smith said: “you my colleagues seemed to understand what that meant, I had no idea what he was . . . on about.”
He finished by wishing his colleagues well, thanked them for treating him with courtesy and concluded with “Go the mighty All Blacks.”
Dr Smith has gained respect from across the House and outside it for the improved behaviour in the House and his even-handed treatment of MPs. This was not always appreciated by Ministers who are held to a higher standard than those in previous administrations.